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Arts Beat for Dec. 14: ‘Night Fires’ to be performed at Town Hall Theater

“Night Fires” are being lit once more, starting at 8 p.m. on Friday at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. Repeat performances will be at 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
This year Theatre Group, Ltd., which has been performing pageant-like celebrations with music and dance at the time of the winter solstice for over 35 years, tells its version of an ancient and familiar tale.
With an original script by “Night Fires” creator Marianne Lust, the production features traditional music from southern Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Norway, Sicily and rural France and Spain as well as from such contemporary American composers as Isaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Suzanne Vega, Eric Clapton, Glen Campbell and Rachel Platten. Poems by Mary Oliver, William Blake, Jane Hirshfield and Rainer Maria Rilke are woven into the moving, magical and humorous text.
“‘Night Fires’ is one of the shows we always look forward to,” says Town Hall Theater Executive Director Douglas Anderson. “They bring an enormous amount of imagination and magic to Town Hall Theater. ‘Night Fires’ is always unique and it’s always beautifully done.”
Please note that pre-show singing begins approximately 20 minutes before the show.
Tickets are $25 adults, $21 seniors and $20 students. For further details and to buy tickets, visit townhalltheater.org. Tickets are also available at the THT box office, 382-9222, or in person Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
SONS OF SERENDIP AT THT
The Sons of Serendip (SoS) have made headlines for their unique fusion of R&B, gospel and neo soul with considerable classical expertise to create a uniquely sumptuous and emotionally stirring sound. At 7:30 p.m. next Monday, Dec. 21, the quartet will play Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater, bringing this sound to interpretations of modern and traditional holiday classics, arranged with vocals, cello, harp and piano.
Best known for winning fourth place and the hearts of America on season nine of “America’s Got Talent,” this classically trained quartet is composed of musicians Micah Christian (lead vocals), Kendall Ramseur (cello, vocals), Mason Morton (harp) and Cordaro Rodriguez (piano, vocals).
The evening will include Sons of Serendip’s hit arrangement of “O Holy Night” and a much-anticipated original composition “Miss You Most,” a heartfelt ballad of long distance love during the Christmas season. Other holiday favorites are all tied together by the group’s rousing, signature sing-along sound that has made Sons of Serendip an ensemble poised to stand the test of time.
“Sons of Serendip showcases the reason these four musicians grabbed America’s attention in competition on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and gives good reason for us to continue to follow their careers,” according to Black Grooves.
Tickets are $40. For further details and to buy tickets, visit townhalltheater.org. Tickets are also available at the THT box office, 382-9222, or in person Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
CARMICHAEL AND BARNES
Broadway performer Bill Carmichael and favorite local pianist Fred Barnes team up for an evening of American standards and show tunes at Brandon Music on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The duo will present some holiday songs along with renditions of popular songs like Cole Porter’s “So in Love,” “Isn’t It a Pity” by George Gershwin, and Richard Rodgers’ “My Romance.”
Bill Carmichael was last seen on Broadway in “Mamma Mia!” Other Broadway credits include “Les Misérables,” “Cats,” and “Peter Pan.” Carmichael was in the original production of “Forbidden Broadway” and can be heard on the original cast recording. In Los Angeles he was in the original U.S. premieres of “Ragtime,” “Forever Plaid” and “Sweeney Todd.”
Fred Barnes has been a pianist and vocalist on cruise ships, was the house pianist at the Sheraton Russell Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City for four years and has performed extensively in New York, New Jersey and Vermont. He has also instructed students in jazz piano for over 25 years.
Tickets are $20. A pre-concert dinner is also available for $20. Reservations are recommended for the show and required for dinner. Venue is BYOB. Call 247-4295 or e-mail [email protected] for reservations or for more information. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road in Brandon.
‘MESSIAH SING’
At 2 p.m. on Sunday, the Middlebury Congregational Church once again hosts the area’s annual “Messiah Sing” that attracts hundreds of singers and players from throughout Addison County, central and northern Vermont and the Champlain Valley area each year. Jeff Rehbach, conductor of the Middlebury College Community Chorus, leads the sing-along of this famous work by George Frederic Handel for choir and orchestra.
Singers, instrumentalists and all who enjoy music are warmly welcomed to sing and play, or simply to watch and listen. Come join friends and neighbors for a joyous afternoon of community music-making.
This year’s reading continues the tradition of featuring soloists drawn from Middlebury and other communities throughout Vermont, including Grace Weber, Jim Wright, Jessica Allen, Jeff Buettner, Adam Hall, and Erin Grainger. Solo numbers will be accompanied by string players Molly Bidwell, Carole Fenn, Hilary Hatch and Emily Sunderman. Harpsichord maker Robert Hicks, Jr. of Lincoln provides one of his handcrafted keyboard instruments, played by Larry Hamberlin.
A $5 contribution ($10 per family) is requested at the door. The Middlebury Community Chorus provides refreshments for all to enjoy during intermission. For more information, email [email protected] or leave a message at 989-7355.
CLARE COLLEGE CHOIR
The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, England, will perform a program, “Mater Ora Filium, Music for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany,” at St. Stephen’s in Middlebury on Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m.
These 30 men and women musicians, including two organ scholars, are members of a choir founded in 1971. They sing services — chiefly Evensongs, but occasionally other services — in the Clare College Chapel, as well as concerts all over the world. Their concert at St. Stephen’s will be the fourth of five concerts on their American tour, during which they will also sing in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York.
Their program will include a number of English and European Renaissance pieces by John Sheppard, William Byrd, Giovanni Palestrina, Orlando diLasso, Jacobus Clemens non Papa, and Jean Mouton and others. There will also be arrangements of traditional Christmas music, including “I Wonder As I Wander” and “Silent Night.”
Tickets $10 available at the church office during regular hours and on line, ststephensmidd.org. Proceeds will go to the Charter House Emergency Winter Shelter for Families and Individuals.
LIVE MUSIC AT 51 MAIN
There will be three live musical events this week at Middlebury’s 51 Main. At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, the 51 Main Blues Jam continues. Dennis Willmott from Left Eye Jump will provide lead guitar, bass, and drums and these guys will back you up or take a break and let you play. All musicians and blues fans are welcome. Everyone will get a chance to play.
Then, at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Cooie DeFrancesco takes to the stage. Cooie DeFrancesco brings lyrics to life, whether singing traditional tunes or popular songs. Her clear and vibrant vocal styling evokes a dollop of blues, hints of jazz, folk and some old time rock-and-roll.
Finally, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the Paul Asbell Jazz Group will perform. This quartet’s blend of bluesy swing, New Orleans grooves, lush melodies and fiery Latin tempos is a genuine Vermont standout.
All ages, no cover. For additional information visit www.go51main.com or phone 388-8209.
TWO BROTHERS TAVERN
There will be two live performances this week at Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury. Join Two Brothers every Wednesday at 9 p.m. for The Open Mic, an evening of music, comedy, or anything else, alternately hosted by Mark Sikora and Kai Stanley. Come cheer on your friends or let loose on the stage. It’s free to enter and there is no cover charge.
Then on Friday, the Tavern presents Second Half, at 9 p.m. Second Half features the classic rock-inspired compositions of local musicians Ken Burton, Kathy Brande, Matt Gordon and Philip Anderson. They’ll be seasoned with a splash of classic covers for a tasty musical experience. There is a $3 cover charge. For more information, call Two Brothers at 388-0002.
EXHIBIT IN STARKSBORO
An exhibit of collage work titled “Scraps” by Ruth Barenbaum recently opened at the Starksboro Public Library, 2827 Route 116 in Starksboro. This is Barenbaum’s first “big show” in 30 years of work. The library is open Monday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free exhibit runs through the end of December.

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